Self-destructing media files

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Tramp 116
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Self-destructing media files

Post by Tramp 116 »

I'm not sure if this is in the right topic. Please feel free to move this to the correct one if required.

The question is self-destructing files. In my case, video files. (at least those are the only ones I know are disappearing from my HD. I have suspected this has been happening for some time but now I have proof. Video files, stored on an encrypted, supposedly secure, external HD are gone. Not deleted, at least not by me, even accidently. They have simply vanished from the HD. If I have removed them even accidently, there would be traces that could be detected by various recovery methods. These video files are simply gone.
They were in all sorts of video formats, from AVI and MPV. to MP4. Most of my video files are stored as either FLV or MP4 formats. (the HD itself is formatted in NTFS. It's a storage carry-over from my Win 7 PC's.) One of these missing videos I purchased over 15 years ago and had it stored as 3 separate files, in 3 separate formats, WMP, FLV and MP4 formats. All copies of this video are gone from my HD.

I have long heard about hidden self-delete tags/scripts added to media files to have the files self-destruct after a certain period of time. There are/were several Windows programs that will do it. But I was not aware these worked in Linux Mint or any other distro. Does anyone know how to find and and remove or prevent these scripts from functioning?
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xenopeek
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Re: Self-destructing media files

Post by xenopeek »

I'm not aware that such video formats can have self delete tags or scripts embedded, or that Linux video players would care to honor such. I've never heard of this affecting Linux system. Even if there were file recovery tools would find the files or at least portions of them if this was the case. I think to do something like you suspect the video files would need to include a Linux executable payload and use vulnerabilities specific to your video player and version to trick the video player into running that code when the video file is opened. On its own that already is farfetched but for all 3 video files you purchased 15 years ago it's plain impossible.

The more likely explanation I think is that the files were accidentally or mistakenly deleted (some wrong command or botched script, or letting BleachBit run amok), were never on this HDD but on another if you have multiple, the HDD is nearing end of life and starting to malfunction, the NTFS filesystem was corrupted or unmounted uncleanly, or perhaps somebody else in your household has access to the HDD and deleted files to make room for something else. For sure this is a distressing issue.

It sounds like you already tried file recovery tools. Which did you try? If you already tried the likes of PhotoRec and TestDisk and weren't able to find a trace of these files I hope you have a secondary backup because then it sounds unlikely you can recover them from this HDD.
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Hoser Rob
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Re: Self-destructing media files

Post by Hoser Rob »

It's also possible that you renamed the file and ended up with a dot at the beginning, making it hidden in Linux. Done that myself.
Tramp 116
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Re: Self-destructing media files

Post by Tramp 116 »

Hoser Rob wrote:
Fri Jun 18, 2021 8:45 am
It's also possible that you renamed the file and ended up with a dot at the beginning, making it hidden in Linux. Done that myself.
That's very possible. My typing is getting worse as I age.
How do I find it if it's hidden from Linux?
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Don't submit to Evil.
mikeflan
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Re: Self-destructing media files

Post by mikeflan »

In Nemo select View - and check "Show Hidden Files":
nemo.png
I would also fire up a windows machine and see if it sees the files. Most likely NOT.
Tramp 116
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Re: Self-destructing media files

Post by Tramp 116 »

I keep the Hidden Files function in Nemo checked at all times. And old habit left over from Windows Explorer. So if the missing files don't show up, then I can consider them truely gone? I have recent found another copy (and in better resolution that my original) so the problem of this particular video is solved. But I have long suspected this might be occuring to other video files on my HDD. I live alone so there's no one else here who has access who could have done it. I have my HDD pretty solidly encrypted. (Enough I doubt even the Nosey Spy Agency could break it easily).
I wonder if there isn't an app that could keep track of files. Logging such info as date and time of last access and status.
Google/Alphabet & Amazon are Evil empires.
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Don't submit to Evil.
mikeflan
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Re: Self-destructing media files

Post by mikeflan »

I wonder if there isn't an app that could keep track of files. Logging such info as date and time of last access and status.
Look into inotify-tools, which is in my Software Manager. It might work. I have never used it.
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